The owner of a prize-winning bull due to be slaughtered after testing positive for bovine TB has won an 11th-hour reprieve in the High Court.
A judge ordered Hallmark Boxter, also known as “Boxy”, to be spared while farmer Ken Jackson, of Forlorn Hope Farm in South Yorkshire, makes one last legal bid to block the death sentence.
Mr Jackson disputes the validity of the TB test that condemned his “unique and irreplaceable” showground champion and has been fighting over several months for a re-test, offering personally to pay for it.
A positive blood sample was taken from the bull in April last year and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered him to be slaughtered.
Mr Jackson, whose farm is at Stubbs Walden, north of Doncaster, and is named after an old battle site, argues the officers who took the sample mixed two half-full vials in the field, contrary to written procedures. He wants the positive test declared null and void by the courts.
He has obtained evidence from Professor Paul Torgerson that suggests the sample cannot be relied upon because of the danger that it was contaminated.
Boxy was due to have been put down on Wednesday.
The bull, one of the most valuable British Blonde bulls in the country, remains in isolation.
The High Court heard there was no evidence of bTB in the rest of Mr Jackson’s herd.
Julie Anderson, appearing for Defra, said: “It is very important this bull is slaughtered. There is a disease risk. That risk is being contained but no-one is suggesting it is eliminated.”